[Rant] Composition and Anime

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Warning: this is gonna be a rant.

I haven’t really done rants on this blog yet, but suffice it to know that I actually do it quite often. Every season, there’s always a show or two that just doesn’t meet up to your standards, but every now and then there’s that one show that is just so amazingly bad that it manages to even be offensive. The last show I remember that reached that magnitude of awfulness was Kuma Miko back in Spring 2016… The culprit this season is none other than Occultic;nine.

And there are many reasons to hate this show — from its highly convoluted premise, to its heavy reliance on conspiracy theories turned chuunibyou-technobabble nonsense — but if there’s one thing to absolutely despise in this show, it’s the god awful cinematography and composition.

And I think I have enough experience in Photography (having grown up under the tutelage of a serious hardcore film camera-weilding father) to say that none of the compositional sense in this show makes… er, sense. Although the sensibilities in still photography and cinematography may differ, they share the same principles in basic framing and composition. Heck, just look at the mess of shots there are in this show! Continue reading

Translating Anime (Shirobako Style)

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I’d like to take a step back from the anime for a moment to share with you something that many of you might not be aware of regarding the anime/manga you enjoy. It goes without saying that before you can even engage with the media, you need to understand it — and that’s where translators come in. Yes, I’m a translator. I’ve “worked” as a freelance translator in the “scanslation” scene for nearly a decade before going professional on a per project basis. Since I work full-time as a medical professional, I can only offer my services whenever I have the time, so this arrangement of working whenever there’s an opening works for me. And that means most of the time, I’m doing translation checks or other small bit translations (i.e. sign boards, SFX in manga, etc.). So chances are, you might have come across something in animeland that was translated, in part, by yours truly.

It sounds cool and all, and true — it does feel good being able to bring stuff out for other people to enjoy. But being on the supply side of the equation does have its downsides. And much of what I’m referring to is the backlash that you’ve probably heard of in the form of complaints in localization. Ew, the dubs suck. Subs were better. They changed the script so much, they totally re-wrote everything! Where are the honorifics? They’re whitewashing my anime, wtf!? 

Sound familiar? There’s a whole discussion behind preferences in localization and how a sort of heirarchy of anime supremacists have come about — the upper echelons of which are occupied by long-time “veterans” in the hobby who bemoan the degradation of anime into an industry of mass-production catering to “lesser” individuals that were “late on the bandwagon”. But I’m not here to talk about how a fragmented fanbase of anime/manga enthusiasts describe the media they consume. I’m here to give you an idea of what it’s like to be a translator, and perhaps give you a little insight as to why the media you enjoy (or loath) so much is in the form it is today. Continue reading

Anime and the Love of Headphones 2

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Yup, it’s that time of the week again where I ramble about anime and all things gloriously audiophile. Last week, we talked about Mio Akimiya from K-ON! and the famous AKG K701 reference headphones. In fact, AKG has made many other iconic headphones whose eye candy-like design has made it the object of many animators to include in shows. Case in point these next pair of cans worn by none other than Hifumi Takamoto from last season’s comedy/slice-of-life NEW GAME!! Continue reading

Anime and the love of Headphones

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First off, I’d like to welcome you guys to a new column entitled Anime and the love of Headphones, which I plan on running for a couple articles. As a short introduction, I’m actually a big personal hi-fi audio geek. It’s probably a hereditary thing since each guy in my family seems to have their own personal preference for audio. For my father, it’s home audio systems; my brother is an expert in car audio (and he even serves as a professional judge in some gigs); for me, it’s headphones and other high-performance audio recording equipment.

Which makes watching anime all the more fun when they cameo real-life equipment in a show. It’s a fact that the headphone market has seen a marked boost in popularity after the release of Beats by dr. dre, and other commercials/celebrities that promote these headsets as forms of fashion statements simply add to the whole headphone craze. And though it might serve as a touch of class in anime for the casual viewer, it’s a pleasant little easter egg for headphone enthusiasts like me when I see a model that I’ve either tested in the past or better yet own myself.

So in these next few articles, I’ll pay tribute to some of the great headphone models that have made their cameo appearances in well known anime (and even manga). I’m pretty sure some of you might have spotted some of these models before, but here’s the point where I share a little extra trivia on what you might not have known about these wonderful pieces of ear jewelry. Heck, you might even be inclined to buy them yourselves!

So enough chit-chat and let’s get started! Continue reading

Turning 30 and still watching animu

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I’m pretty sure someone’s given you that look before, and it was probably followed up by something along the lines of really, you still watch cartoons?

The left half of my brain starts churning up arguments like cartoons ≠ animé, while my right half starts contemplating on the merits of Japanese animation as a unique medium of expression — only for me to end up responding with a rather underwhelming: yup.

I mean, there’s no denying it. Yes, I’m turning thirty. And yes, I still watch cartoons if that’s what you want to call it. There’s no point in analyzing the hermeneutics of animation with someone who thinks anything colorful and drawn is essentially a cartoon. But before you call me out as a pretentious Animé “supremacist” (if that is even a title), I’ll have you know that I actually DO enjoy watching western cartoons as well, although not as passionately or regularly as I would Japanese animation. Heck, I have cousins who work as animators in the United States, so any snide comments about the animation industry in general is tantamount to insulting them.

But really, I’m not here to argue about why people think Animé (or cartoons, whatever) are assumed to be made for younger audiences. And I’m not here to argue with people who assume I should be spending my time doing more “adult-like” things. To be honest, what I do with my spare time is no one’s effing business. But what’s really interesting, to me at least, is how I feel (personally) about watching anime now that I’m turning a decade older. Continue reading

Reveries and the search for hope

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I realize this is the first time I’m actually writing an essay regarding my thoughts on an Anime. For a site named Anima & Anime, it’s a bit embarrassing that all I’ve ever turned up are rants and rankings of currently airing shows — all the while looking like a half-decapitated chicken trying to pass off as a full-time writer. But essay writing really is something different in that I don’t necessarily have a point to prove. Instead, all I do is simply talk about something that has piqued my interest, case-in-point summer 2016’s understated star: Planetarian ~Reverie of a Little Planet~.

For a show that is only five episodes long, there is a gracefulness to its execution that is both simple yet deliberate. As a part of Visual Art’s/Key’s visual novel line up, it is probably not as dramatically verbose as stories like CLANNAD or Kanon. Regardless, it still makes a solid attempt at yanking the emotional feels of any casual viewer. It’s quite obvious, given the themes, that the story will end in tragedy, but tragedies work precisely because they do not brood over the obvious demise of a member of its cast. Instead, tragedies elevate and emphasize the emotional toils of its characters, allowing their sacrifices to serve as living messages for those left behind (and those watching, as well). A good tragedy, therefore, transcends beyond the explicit experience of sorrow in order to depict a greater message of truth and hope. And this is why Planetarian gets everything right when it comes to depicting sensitive topics such as death and despair. It’s not enough that you punch people in the emotional gut just for the sake of it; this show is far more sincere than that, and yet still deliberately poignant.

Planetarian starts off with the “birth” of Yumemi — the “bargain bin” robot girl tasked to serve as the tour guide at the Hanabishi department store planetarium. We see the world for the first time through Yumemi’s eyes, complete with cryptic-looking, holographic cyphers whizzing about her HUD. It identifies her world as warm and inviting, but at the same time clearly delineates her cold and artificial nature. We are then suddenly shifted to a parting scene where her human counterparts explain to her that they “cannot stay” and request that she “stay strong” under the pretext that “they’ll be back”.

But of course they won’t be back. The world has fallen into chaos. Biological warfare has plunged the world of Yumemi into darkness, and the bustling city she once knew is now a disintegrating maze of decrepit buildings doomed to the ravages of time and neglect. Devoid of humans, the city is now host to weaponized robots that scout the grounds for any signs of life, effectively eliminating anything that breaths or moves. It is in this post-apocalyptic setting that the story of Planetarian takes place. Continue reading